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The Kozak Period (1599-1711)


Loosely translated and abridged by George Skoryk from "HISTORY OF UKRAINE" by Mykhaylo Hrushevs'kyi

IV. Cossack (Kozak) PERIOD (1599-1711).

Bohdan Khmelnytskyi

Although Zholkewski failed to destroy the Cossacks, he left them considerably weakened and divided, often fighting among themselves. Hetman Samiylo Kishka united all the Cossack forces and, after leading them in a successful naval expeditions against the Turks and land raids on Moldova. This helped to restore the former Cossack spirit and power.

In 1599, the Polish king, having difficulty with a war with the Walachians in Moldova, had to rehabilitate Cossacks in order to secure their help. Later he would use them in a war with Sweden. Kishka died in one of the battles with the Swedes but the Cossacks continued to fight under the other hetmans. When this war ended in 1603, Cossacks demanded and obtained equal status with the Polish military units and secured authority over large area of Ukraine adjacent to the Dnipro river.

Cossack power continued to grow with raids on lands controlled by Moscow—by helping the numerous pretenders for Moscow throne (1604-1613)—and the Black Sea expeditions, in their boats called Chaykas. These took place on coast of Turkey, Crimea and the mouth of Danube in Moldova (1613-1618). Each 'Chayka' was manned by about 60 Cossacks and was armed with 4 to 6 cannons. With fleets of between 30 and 80 Chaykas, the Cossacks destroyed or captured many Turkish galleons and plundered Turkish cities during times when the whole of Europe was trembling against the might of the Turkish Empire.

It is estimated that the number of Cossacks fluctuated between 10,000 and 40,000 depending on circumstances. Their centre was the Sitch—an armed camp in Zaporizhia, located "beyond the cascades" of the river Dnipro. The Cossack Army was divided into regiments, consisting of between 500 and 4000 men, led by colonels. Each regiment had its own banner, trumpeter and drummer. Regiments were divided into companies of 100 men led by captains which were further subdivided into 'kurins' of 10 men led by 'atamans'. There was also a small artillery force and orchestra. The Commander in Chief was a hetman, elected by and responsible to Cossack Council called the Rada.

In the spring of 1618 hetman Petro Sahaydachnyi with force of about 20,000 Cossacks marched on Moscow, conquering many towns and fortresses on the way. Near Moscow he joined up with Polish forces under prince Wladyslaw, who pretended for Moscow throne. They failed to capture Moscow, but managed to secure peace terms favorable to Poland.

The Poles, no longer endangered by its enemies, again turned their attention to pacification of the Cossacks. Sahaydachnyi wanted to avoid hostilities and in 1619 agreed to reduction of Cossack force to 3,000. This did not please Zaporozhtsi (Cossacks in Zaporizhia), who then replaced Sahaydachnyi by hetman Borodawka. Sahaydachnyi, who retained control of Cossacks on the mainland, dedicated himself to promotion and defense of Ukrainian culture and
Orthodox faith by diplomatic means; Borodawka continued with traditional raids on Turkey.

When, in 1620, Poland got into difficulties in war with Turks (in Moldova the Polish army was defeated and Zholkewski killed), Poles again called on Cossack help. Borodawka was keen to oblige but Sahaydachnyi, pointing out the unfair treatment of Ukrainians, tried to restrain the Cossacks until they received a better deal from the Polish king. However, the Cossacks became impatient and under Borodawka marched on Moldova to fight the Turks. They lost many men and blamed it on Borodawka's inefficient leadership and strategy. When Sahaydachnyi returned from his negotiations with the king, the Cossacks dismissed, tried and executed Borodawka and elected Sahaydachnyi as
hetman of all Cossacks.

In 1621 a big battle against the Turks took place on the South side of the Dnister River near Khotyn with participation of 40,000 Cossacks and 35,000 Polish soldiers. It ended with the retreat of the Turkish army. Cossacks got full credit for this victory but very little in way of compensation and again the Poles insisted on the reduction of their numbers.

Sahaydachnyi, wounded in Khotyn battle, died on 10th April 1622. Under his successors Cossacks continued to defend Orthodox faith, resisted exploitation of Ukrainian land and peasants by the Polish landowners and terrorized the Turks with their raids across Black Sea. Polish king, although unable to suppress the Cossacks, continued with a policy of conversion of the Ukrainian population to Catholicism by persecution of people of the Orthodox faith. In 1924 Orthodox Church authorities asked Moscow for help but Moscow was not strong enough to get involved in hostilities with Poland.

Later, in 1624, the Cossacks secured an unexpected alliance with the Crimean
Tatars, who rebelled against the Turkish sultan. While the Turks sailed against the Tatar rebels, the Cossacks twice raided Constantinople and plundered both shores of Bosphorus. They then returned and helped the Tatars to expel the Turks from Crimea, thus securing friendly neighbors in their struggle against Turks and Poles.

Unfortunately, in 1625, when many Cossacks were away on one of their maritime expeditions against the Turks; Polish hetman Konietspolski attacked and forced Cossack hetman Zhmaylo to accept terms, whereby the Cossack register was to be reduced to 4,000 men. The Cossacks did not like this compromise and replaced Zhmaylo by hetman Doroshenko. Doroshenko was a capable leader and administrator and maintained a reasonably peaceful relationships with Polish authorities. He even managed to restrain 'unregistered' Cossacks from raids on Turkey. However when Turks attacked Crimea, the Cossacks went to help the Tatars and Doroshenko fell in one of the battles there.

Succeeding Cossack hetmans continued to uphold peaceful conditions until 1629 when Konietspolski returned from war with Sweden and settled his soldiers on Ukrainian land, who started to make trouble. He also tried to eliminate the 'unregistered' Cossacks.

In the spring of 1630, Cossacks from Zaporizhia led by hetman Taras Fedorowych went on the march and caught up with the Polish forces and the
'registered' Cossacks stationed in Korsun. The Cossacks from Korsun went over to Fedorowych, citizens rebelled and the Polish soldiers had to flee. This signaled a general uprising, which eventually turned into a war in defense of the Orthodox faith.

The reaction of the Polish administration was brutal and widespread. Konietspolski enlisted a notorious hood, Lashch, to attack and massacre people in churches, towns and villages. However, this made the Cossacks, and Ukrainian population at large, more determined to get rid of the Polish yoke.

A decisive battle took place in mid 1630 near Peryaslav where the Polish forces suffered a major defeat and Konietspolski had to make peace with the Cossacks.
After death of Polish king Sigismund III Vasa (in April 1632) Ukrainian nobles and politicians intensified their efforts to gain a better deal for Ukraine by diplomatic means. The new king, Ladislas IV, was more sympathetic to their cause, mainly in order to counteract the influence from Moscow on Ukrainian scene. Although the Catholic Church and the landowners resisted any concessions, Ukrainians managed to make some progress in spiritual and cultural fields under the newly elected archbishop Petro Mohyla.

The new king appreciated the Cossack's potential and used them in wars with Turkey, Moscow and Sweden. The Cossacks proved themselves to be just as efficient fighters on the Baltic Sea as on the Black Sea; but the polish senate did not want war with Turkey and constructed a fortress called Kodak near Zaporizhia in order to block the Cossack access to the Black Sea. This fortress was destroyed by Cossacks led by hetman Sulyma in 1635, but 'registered'
Cossacks, in order to avoid retaliation, captured Sulyma and handed him over to the Poles. In spite of his distinguished service in war with Turks and efforts of the king and pope to save him, Sulyma was executed and his body was cut up and hung on four corners of Warsaw streets.

The betrayal of Sulyma did not gain Cossacks much reward from Poles. This led to an uprising under hetman Pavliuk in 1637, but Polish field marshal Pototski suppressed it. Another unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Polish occupation was made by the Cossacks, in 1638, under hetmans Ostryanin and Hunya. After that the Cossack movement fell under Polish control, Kodak fortress was rebuilt and it appeared that the Poles might have finally gained unchallenged domination of Ukraine.

A lengthy period of peace, which followed, made it easier for the Poles to maintain control over Ukraine. Cossacks were no longer needed as a defense force. The Polish senate and nobles managed to curtail king Ladislas' ambitions for aggressive wars. Polish soldiers were on hand to keep a lid on the simmering discontent of the Ukrainian population.

Deprived of protection from the Cossacks, peasants were exploited on land as serfs, city dwellers were reduced to a state grudging conformity. Political, cultural and religious matters were under Polish control and commerce was predominantly in hands of Jewish merchants, storekeepers and innkeepers.

An incident in 1646 started a chain of significant events with great consequences. The farm of Cossack captain, Bohdan Khmelnytskyi, was destroyed and his family harmed by local government officials in Subotiv. Angry and distraught, Bohdan decided to organize an uprising. Conditions for it were very ripe, and in 1647 Kmelnytskyi went to the Sitch where he was elected as Cossack hetman. Fueled by rumors of imminent war, volunteers streamed to Zaporizhia to join the free Cossack forces. This alarmed Polish authorities and an army, which included 'registered' Cossacks was sent to restore Polish control. However these Cossacks went over to Khmelnytskyi and the Polish force was annihilated on the steppes near Zaporizhia in May 1648. Cossack victories, with popular support continued. Even the Tatars, who were dissatisfied with their treatment by the Poles, joined in. Marching westward, the main Cossack force reached and besieged the city of Lviv and the fortress town Zamostc. Practically the whole of Ukraine fell under Cossack control.

In the meantime king Ladislas IV died and his brother king Casimir V made peace with Cossacks, agreeing to all their demands. Victorious Khmelnytskyi with his army retreated and in January 1649 entered the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to a triumphal acclaim as liberator. When the king's emissaries arrived in Kyiv they insisted that Ukraine must remain part of Polish Kingdom and offered only to increase number of 'registered' Cossacks and concessions to the Orthodox Church. This angered Khmelnytskyi because he now wanted full independence and freedom for all Ukrainian people. He told the emissaries that he would liberate the whole of Ukraine and said, "standing on the river Vistula I will say 'sit there and be quiet Poles' and I will expel all dukes and princess beyond the Vistula and if they start to bolt I will even find them there for sure". He then set out to create an independent Ukrainian Cossack State.

In response the Polish army marched on Ukraine. After encountering a large force of Cossacks and Tatars they retreated to a strong fortress Zbarazh and were besieged there. Cossacks near Zboriv blocked their reinforcements. The Poles where nearly defeated there but were saved by the Tatars, who defected from the Cossacks after generous promises from the Poles. Faced with the combined force of Poles and Tatars, Khmelnytskyi had to settle for the increase of the Cossack register to 40,000 and concessions to the Orthodox Church only (Treaty of Zboriv in Aug 1649).

This did not satisfy the Ukrainian population and soon Khmelnytskyi had to fight again for their freedom. After coaxing the Tatars again over to his side he defeated the Polish army at Korsun in 1650. However later he was again betrayed by the Tatars and in August 1651 had to make another agreement with Poland, this time decreasing Cossack register to 20,000 and without concessions to the Orthodox Church.

This agreement was treated by Khmelnytskyi only as a period of respite and in spring 1652, with Tatar participation, he went on the march again. After a period of bloody and exhaustive battles and another betrayal by the Tatars, Khmelnytskyi decided to seek help from Moscow. In January 1654 he met with emissaries from Moscow in Peryaslav who promised help in defense of Ukraine from Poland if the Cossacks swore allegiance to their tsar. An agreement was reached based on set of conditions, which in effect guarantied Ukraine independence, connected to Moscow only by virtue of common monarch. It worked well in a military sense as the Poles were expelled from Ukraine and Belarus, however there was no consensus in the political sphere. Ukrainians wanted relationships with Moscow as equal, independent partners, whereas Moscow considered Ukraine as an acquisition of another country by its growing empire.

Khmelnytskyi was very disappointed by such attitude and behavior from his allies and began to look around for other friends. In 1655 Swedish king Karl X requested and obtained Cossack help in his war with Poland. When the Swedes occupied northern Poland, the Polish king made peace with Moscow and tried also to attract the Cossacks over to his side. But Khmelnytskyi, because of previous experience with Poland and Moscow, decided to stick with Sweden and at the beginning of year 1657 resumed hostilities with Poland. Unfortunately Khmelnytskyi got very sick and the Cossacks led by colonel Zhdanovytch, unable to achieve any significant victories, returned home. Khmelnytskyi died on 27th June 1657.

He wanted his son to succeed him but, as Yurasj was yet to young and inexperienced. The Cossacks elected Ivan Vyhowskyi as their hetman. At first Vyhowskyi conducted a neutral policy toward Poland, Moscow and Sweden but eventually, aggressive behavior of Muscovites on Ukrainian territory pushed him toward Poland. In September 1658, in Haydach, he signed an accord by which Ukraine fell under jurisdiction of the Polish king, albeit as an autonomous country.

With help from Poland and the Tatars, Vyhowskyi defeated Moscow’s forces in Ukraine, but in September 1659 a large section of Cossacks rebelled, accused Vyhowskyi of trying to sell Ukraine to Poland and elected Yurasj Khmelnytskyi as their hetman. Soon all Cossacks united under Yurasj and forced Vyhowskyi to resign. After entering into another treaty with Moscow, the Cossacks and the Russians, in the summer of 1660, marched on Poland. However this campaign did not go very well and when the Russian forces were defeated, the Cossacks had to submit to another union with Poland.

Although Ukrainians resented Moscow domination, Polish authorities failed to capitalize on it and did nothing to gain popular support. The Cossacks on Leevoberezhie (Left Bank), that is on the east side of river Dnipro, went over to the Moscow side; Yurasj Khmelnychenko resigned in 1663 and his place was taken by Pawlo Tererya. Tererya was a Polish supporter therefore he could not extend his authority to the Left Bank where the Cossacks elected hetman Ivan Brukhowetskyi.

At the beginning of 1665 the Cossacks overthrew Teterya, thus freeing territory on Pravoberezhie (Right Bank), that is on the West Side of the river Dnipro, from Poland. Unwilling to come under Moscow domination the Cossacks turned for support from the Tatars by electing Petro Doroshenko as their hetman In 1667, by the treaty of Andrysovo, Ukraine was partitioned along the Dnipro River: the western side (Right Bank) went under Polish control, while the eastern side (Left Bank), including Kyiv, became the autonomous hetman state or Hetmanate under Russian protectorate. Zaporizhia still remained under independent Cossack rule, who elected their own chieftains and followed their own impetuous policies.

On the Right Bank, Doroshenko accepted Turkish sultan Mohammed IV as his superior in exchange for help to liberate Ukraine from domination by Poland and Moscow. Later, in the spring of 1668, the Cossacks on the Left Bank rebelled against Moscow resulting in the whole of Ukraine coming under the control of Petro Doroshenko. Unfortunately later in 1668, when Doroshenko was occupied with a family matter, the Russians attacked and once again the Left Bank fell under their domination, with Demyan Mnohohrishnyi as hetman of Cossacks of that part of Ukraine. Polish forces also invaded Ukraine from West but, in the spring of1671, the Turkish sultan sent in a large army and helped Doroshenko to expel the Poles from western Ukraine.

Doroshenko then started negotiations with Mnohohrishnyi about unification of Ukraine. This did not please Moscow; Mnohohrishnyi was tried (on trumped up charges) and sentenced to exile. The new Left Bank hetman Ivan Samoylowytch was hostile to Doroshenko and, with help from Moscow, marched on Right Bank Ukraine. He received a considerable support there because the Turks and the Tatars antagonized the population by trying to promote their Muslim religion.Doroshenko was this time unable to obtain help from Turks as they were busy in war with Poland and retreated to his holding of Chyhyryn. On 15th March 1674. Samoylowytch was proclaimed hetman of the whole Ukraine under a Moscow protectorate.

Doroshenko was ready to surrender but after receiving support from Zaporozhtsi, encouragement from Poland and help from Turks decided to keep on fighting against Samoylowych and his Russian backers. This war, with raids and plunders by Turks, Tatars and Poles caused a mass exodus of people from the west to the Left Bank. Abandoned by his people Doroshenko surrendered in September 1676.

The Turks then recalled Yurasj Khmelnychenko, who continued to struggle for the Right Bank until 1681, when the Turks replaced him by the Walachian
Warlord Duky. In 1683 the Right Bank was taken over by the Poles under Yan Sobyeski, who was supported by the Cossacks in a war with the Turks, which figured significantly in the rescue of Vienna in 1683. For their services, Cossacks were rewarded with land grants in southern Ukraine. People then began to return from the east, which further helped Sobyeski to fight the Turks. But still, the Cossacks resented Polish supremacy and Paliy, with the other Cossack Colonels, planned an uprising and unification with the Cossack on the Left Bank.

Over there Samoylowych tried to avoid anything which may displease Moscow, but at the price of continuing loss of independence. The Uniate church disappeared and the Orthodox Kyivan metropolitanate itself was transferred in 1986 from patriarchal authority of Constantinople to that of Moscow. Arts and education progressively lost its traditional Ukrainian character. Also granting them land possessions ensured loyalty to Moscow by some of the Starshyna (senior Cossack officers), which led to renewed exploitation of peasants.

Samoylowych himself started to adopt autocratic style of rule and even wanted to introduce his dynasty, which antagonized most of the Cossack Starshyna. Therefore, when in 1686 Moscow joined with Poland in war with Turkey, they blamed Samoylowych for the failed expedition against the Tatars in Crimea. Samoylowych was exiled to Siberia, where he died two years later.

On 25th July 1687 Ivan Mazepa was elected as new Cossack hetman. For the first few years Mazepa continued with policies of his predecessor; also built and renovated churches and monasteries. Literature, art and architecture, in the distinctive Cossack Baroque style, flourished under his patronage and the Kyivan Mohyla Academy, the first Ukrainian institution of higher learning, experienced its golden age.

However he neglected needs of peasants and ordinary people, who bore the brunt of Moscow’s domination. Attempted uprisings by Petryk took place between years 1693 and1696. He gained support from the Tatars but failed to gain the support of the Cossacks. Eventually a Cossack, for monetary reward from Mazepa, assassinated him. However discontent continued and population started to shift to Zaporizhia and to the Right Bank, where colonel Paliy was looked upon as a peoples hero due to his successes in uprising against Poles.

In 1695 Moscow restarted war with Turkey and Crimea and the Cossacks had to fight wherever Tsar Peter sent them to. The Tatars exposed Ukraine to devastating raids. In 1700 Tsar Peter joined Poland in a war with Sweden in order to gain access to the Baltic Sea and the Cossacks had to march to the distant north, were many of them died in battles and from brutal treatment by the officers from Moscow. They were also used as manual labor in the construction of fortifications. To make things worse, arrogant Russian regiments were pillaging Ukrainian towns and villages and abusing not only general population but also Cossack leaders.

All this disturbed Mazepa and he began to have few second thoughts about his alliance with Moscow. By the end of 1705 the war with Sweden went bad and in 1706 Swedish king Karl XII concluded peace with Poland thus leaving Moscow alone in this war. Consequently Tsar Peter ordered Mazepa to defend Ukraine without help from Moscow and to destroy the Polish nobles on the Right Bank, who supported the Swedes.

Mazepa used this opportunity to take over this part of Ukraine. But there was a popular Cossack colonel Paliy. Mazepa solved this problem by inviting Paliy to his place, where he was imprisoned and handed over to Tsar Peter, who sent him to Siberia for collaboration with the Swedes.

At the end of 1707 Tsar Peter ordered Mazepa to hand over the western lands to Poland. Mazepa did not obey, using all possible excuses to retain control of that part of Ukraine. While still pretending to be faithful to Tsar Peter, he conducted secret negotiations with Swedish and Polish kings. When in autumn of 1708 king Karl approached Ukraine and promised help in liberation from Moscow, Mazepa decided to switch sides. Unfortunately Moscow became aware of this plot before Mazepa could organize and inform the Cossacks and the population in general about the reasons and the advantages of his plan. Tsar Peter moved swiftly on Ukraine, destroying most of Mazepa's supplies and armaments and ruthlessly eliminated the people suspected of collaboration with Mazepa and the Swedes. He started extensive rumors that Mazepa intended to return Ukraine to Polish domination.

This resulted in most Cossacks siding with Moscow and they subsequently elected a hetman submissive to Moscow—Ivan Skoropadskyi. The church stayed also on Moscow's side. Only Cossacks in Zaporizhia came out in support of Mazepa and his remaining four thousand troops.

The superior Muscovite forces routed Zaporizhia in May 1709 and next month, supported by Cossacks, loyal to Moscow, defeated Mazepa and theSwedes in a battle near Poltava. Heartbroken Mazepa fled to Moldova where he died on 22nd August 1709.

Mazepa supporters did not give up hope of liberation from Moscow. In April 1710 they elected Orlyk as their hetman and continued the struggle, with the help from Sweden, Poland and Turkey for many years to come. They also drafted many interesting resolutions concerning a proposed Ukrainian government, based on democratic principles.

History of the Ukrainian Kozak - Kozak Mamai

Kozak-Mamai (Mamai the Cossack) is an image often portrayed in folk paintings in Ukraine in the 17th-19th centuries. It became so popular that it was regarded as a sort of national Ukrainian symbol. Kozak-Mamai was painted on the walls of houses, on doors and windowsills, on tiles and chests, on many household objects, even on bee hive houses in apiaries. It would be premature to say that we know all there is to know about the genesis of these representations and reasons of their popularity. There is enough evidence to suggest that the representation of Kozak-Mamai goes back to very early times. It was known to many ethnic groups that lived in the territory of the present day Ukraine in the first millennium BC and the first millennium AD.

So, Kozak-Mamai is a result of complex interactions of several ethnic groups and cultural traditions. Though we cannot give yet a comprehensive answer to the question which factors contributed to such a wide and consistent popularity of the Kozak-Mamai image that persisted for centuries, we know for sure that Kozak-Mamai is a deeply symbolic image, a concentrated expression of Ukrainian people’s reflections over their ethnic identity.

The Cossack (and before the Cossack, a free warrior ready to stand up in defense of his homeland) was an embodiment, in the collective consciousness of the people, of spiritual strength and adamant will to fight invaders and oppressors. In later times, when the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks were disbanded by the Russian Imperial authorities, Kozak-Mamai was looked upon as a reminder of the heroic past. In spite of the fact that Kozak-Mamai was usually represented in the state of thoughtful repose rather than in battle with the enemies, the onlooker could feel there was strength and readiness behind the peaceful front.

The Cossacks upheld the moral precepts and cultural traditions of their ancestors, among them the ideals of camaraderie and collectiveness. In the Cossack collective consciousness the pagan mythological and poetic view of the world got mixed up with moral and ethic principles of Christianity. The Cossack mentality reflected the entire scale of Ukrainian national values, in the foundation of which there were Ukrainian concepts of God, Love, Homeland, Land as Mother of all Life, Native People, Statehood, Independence, Freedom, Aspiration to Be Liberated from Foreign Domination, Justice. The Zaporizhzhya Sich (a self-governed Cossack Community in Southern Ukraine centered on the Dnipro River) turned to be a spiritual center around which the ethnic awareness and national mentality of the Ukrainian nation was formed.Practically everything that can be seen in Kozak-Mamai pictures has some symbolical significance. For example, there is a tree, usually appearing in Mamai pictures, mostly oak. This tree, one of the central traditional symbols of the Ukrainians, symbolizes strength and longevity of the nation on the one hand, and on the other it is a universal symbol of life, of the Universe, its structure and its life cycles.

Another important element in Kozak-Mamai pictures is the representations of the horse. Cossacks were excellent horsemen. In the Ukrainian symbolism the horse embodies the concepts of destiny, faithfulness, loyalty, love of freedom and self-sacrifice. Cossack chiefs’ coats of arms often carry representations of horses. In age-long folklore traditions the horse symbolized fire and light; the horse protected its master against evil spirits. In the cosmological Ukrainian symbolism it was a symbol of cycles in the development of the Universe, embodiment of the cosmos itself.

Bandura, a Ukrainian musical instrument appearing in Kozak-Mamai pictures, symbolizes love of songs and music, wisdom and dreaminess, whimsicality and belief in ultimate victory. The song was a vehicle for expressing feelings, thoughts, aspirations. Through songs, the Cossacks told of their perception of the world and gave their assessment of reality around them. The last words of a dying Cossack were addressed to his bandura. Cossack bandura-players passed cultural traditions from generation to generation.

All kinds of cups, goblets, bowls, beakers that can be seen in Kozak-Mamai pictures symbolize (in addition to being things indispensable in the Cossack life) the life-giving force, the womb of the Universe, the universal feminine principle.

Hillocks, featuring in the background of Kozak-Mamai pictures, symbolized the Ukrainian homeland, the place of the final rest, heroic death in defense of homeland, unity of the Cossack clan. The burial mound was often topped with a stone “baba” (female idol) which was the cosmological symbol of the maternal source from which everything living had sprung.

The spear stuck into the ground as part of the funeral rights had a pennon affixed to it. It symbolized the Cossack glory, respect for the deceased and grief. In combination with the bowl, the tree and the cross, the spear was a sign of spatial orientation. The pennon indicated spiritual side of the Cossack-knight, his standing above the mundane, his victory and self-assertion. Even the Kozak-Mamai’s hat and its shape had some symbolic meaning. Powder-flasks were almost exclusively depicted as horns, and horns are universal symbols of male strength. In Ukraine there was an additional association with the ox, symbol of sacrifice, self-denying industriousness, and with the astronomical Taurus, the zodiacal sign of Ukraine.

Bow and arrows, though out of use in the 17th century, invariably make their way into Kozak-Mamai pictures, symbolizing the tension between spiritual and natural forces, connections between sky and earth, the worlds of the living and of the dead; arrows are symbols of the light of the Supreme Force, of sun rays. All of the features of the picture were designed to heighten the importance of the central figure, that of Kozak-Mamai. All the details mattered here — his posture, bearing, dress. Kozak-Mamai was shown sitting the way sacred representations of the Orient show their gods and divine personages, Buddha among them. Mamai’s head is shaved with only one tuft of hair remaining and sticking right out of the middle of his forehead. The shaved head symbolized in many cultures of the world the resignation from the mundane world. Probably, the Cossacks shaved their heads in token of their desire to give up the secular life and devote themselves to asceticism.

The image of Kozak-Mamai can be regarded from the point of view of a symbolic representation of the Cossack, the prototype of all the Cossacks, who carried the heavy cross of serving the national idea of independence and fighting for it. From the mythological and poetic point of view Kozak-Mamai can be viewed as a mysterious image combining in itself many features of the universal, cosmic symbolism.

The meaning of the word “Mamai” cannot be adequately determined, evidently it carries something enigmatic, something that cannot be explicitly revealed. The ancient people believed that words could be materialized and then act on their own, independently of the one who uttered them. Nothing, they thought, should be expressed with exhaustive completeness, a measure of secrecy should be persevered as a way of preserving the true knowledge. In other words, the image of Kozak-Mamai could be regarded as a symbol of a coded Weltanschauung system of the Ukrainians. With a considerable degree of certainty we can say that Kozak-Mamai is a symbolical sign system, into which vitally important principles of Ukrainian ethnicity have been programmed, and which carries the basic national ideals and spiritual reference points of the Ukrainian people. 

(Source: artukraine.com)

History of The Ukrainian Kozak - What is a Kozak?

The name Cossack (Ukrainian: Kozak) is derived from the Turkic Kazak (free man), meaning anyone who could not find his appropriate place in society and went into the steppes, where he acknowledged no authority. In European sources the term first appears in a dictionary of the Cuman language in the mid-13th century. It is also found in Byzantine sources and in the instructions issued by Italian cities to their colonies on the Black Sea coast, where it is applied to armed men who were engaged in military service in frontier regions and protected trade caravans traveling the steppe routes. By the end of the 15th century the name acquired a wider sense and was applied to those Ukrainians who went into the steppes to practice various trades and engage in hunting, fishing, beekeeping, the collection of salt and saltpeter, and so on. The history of the Ukrainian Cossacks has three distinct aspects: their struggle against the Tatars and the Turks in the steppe and on the Black Sea; their participation in the struggle of the Ukrainian people against socioeconomic and national-religious oppression by the Polish magnates; and their role in the building of an autonomous Ukrainian state. The important political role played by the Ukrainian Cossacks in the history of their nation distinguishes them from the Russian Cossacks.

First period (1550–1648)
In the mid-16th century the Cossack structure in the Zaporizhia was created in the process of the steppe settlers' struggle against Tatar raids. The Tatar raids forced the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to build fortresses in the southern region of Ukraine (in Kaniv, Cherkasy, Vinnytsia, Khmilnyk, Bratslav, Bar, and elsewhere). A second category of Cossacks, known as town Cossacks (horodovi kozaky), was formed for the defense of the towns. They were organized by the local officials (in Cherkasy by Ostafii Dashkevych and S. Polozovych; in Khmilnyk by Przecław Lanckoroński; in Bar by Bernard Pretwicz) as well as Samuel Zborowski, Prince Dmytro Vyshnevetsky (Baida), Prince B. Ruzhynsky, and others. These leaders, together with the town and Zaporozhian Cossacks, went far into the steppes in pursuit of the Tatars in order to rescue captives or to attack Tatar and Turkish coastal towns. In time the Cossacks acquired military strength and experience as well as prestige in their own society and fame throughout Europe, which at that time was resisting the Turkish onslaught.

Another important factor in the growth of the Ukrainian Cossacks was the socioeconomic changes taking place in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th century. Because of the favorable conditions for selling grain in Western Europe, the Polish nobility introduced the manorial system of agriculture (see Filvarok). This substantially worsened the lot of the peasantry: their land allotments were decreased, their freedom of movement was limited, and corvée was expanded. The nobility and the Polish government attempted to impose Catholicism and Polonization on the Ukrainian population. The basic form of opposition by the peasants, and to some extent by the burghers, was flight. The fugitive peasants and townspeople fled to the sparsely populated steppe, established settlements, received, for a specified period (up to 30 years), the right to a tax-exempt settlement (sloboda), and called themselves free men—Cossacks. But legal ownership of the expanses of land in the Dnieper region was obtained from the Polish kings by the nobility, who created large latifundia and tried to impose feudal dependency on the local population—both peasants and Cossacks. By the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century this pressure of the magnates and nobility led to bloody conflicts in which the Cossacks fought against the Polish landowners and the Polish government: the uprisings of Kryshtof Kosynsky (1591–3), Severyn Nalyvaiko (1594–6), Hryhorii Loboda (1596), Marko Zhmailo (1625), Taras Fedorovych (1630), Ivan Sulyma (1635), Pavlo Pavliuk and Dmytro Hunia (1637), and Yakiv Ostrianyn and Karpo Skydan (1638), all of them brutally suppressed by the Poles.

The growth of Cossackdom posed a dilemma for the Polish government: on the one hand the Cossacks were necessary for the defense of the steppe frontier; on the other hand they presented a threat to the magnates and the nobles, who governed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The government tried to regulate and control ‘the Cossack problem’ by the establishment of a register, at first small, for up to 300 persons; later, under the pressure of events, this was increased to 6,000 and then 8,000 persons. Instead of allowing elected leaders, it appointed a government ‘elder’ and colonels. But the war of the Polish Commonwealth against Muscovy, Sweden, and Turkey forced the government to make concessions to the Cossacks. In 1578 King Stephen Báthory granted them certain rights and freedoms. Gradually, the Cossacks began to conduct their own external policy independent of the government and frequently contrary to its interests (for example, they took part in Moldavian affairs and arranged a treaty with Emperor Rudolf II in the 1590s). The Cossacks became particularly strong in the first quarter of the 17th century, when Hetman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny not only spread their fame through his successful campaigns against the Tatars and the Turks and his aid to the Polish army at Moscow in 1618 and at the Battle of Khotyn in 1621, but also tied Cossack interests to the Ukrainian struggle against Poland, reviving the traditions of the Kyivan Rus’ state.

Second period (1648–1775)
The suppression of the Cossack uprisings of the 1630s curtailed the development of the Cossack movement. The Cossack register was significantly decreased; the registered Cossacks (reiestrovi kozaky) were isolated from the ones who were excluded from the register and from the Zaporozhian Host. The offensive of the Polish Commonwealth against the Cossacks, together with intensified socioeconomic and national-religious oppression of the other classes of Ukrainian society, resulted in the Cossack-Polish War led by Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the consequent establishment of the Hetman state. Parallel to these developments, the Zaporozhian Host existed autonomously on the territory of the Zaporozhian Sich.

From 1654, when Ukraine recognized the authority of the Muscovite tsar (see Pereiaslav Treaty of 1654), the principal political problem of the Cossacks, and particularly their leaders, became the defense of the autonomous rights of Ukraine from the encroachment of Russian centralism. The hetmans Ivan Vyhovsky, Petro Doroshenko, and Ivan Mazepa tried to solve this problem by trying to separate Ukraine from Russia. After their failures later hetmans, such as Danylo Apostol, Ivan Skoropadsky and Pavlo Polubotok, although they did not advocate an open break with Russia, stubbornly defended the autonomy of Ukraine. At the same time significant socioeconomic changes were taking place among the Cossacks. In 1725 the Cossacks in Left-Bank Ukraine numbered 55,000–65,000: in addition, there were 8,000–10,000 Zaporozhian Cossacks, and 23,000 Cossacks in Slobidska Ukraine, which was part of the Russian state. Only about 50 percent of all Cossacks could afford to bear arms. In the first half of the 18th century the Cossacks and their families made up over 40 percent of the total population of Left-Bank Ukraine.

In the 18th century the socioeconomic differentiation among the Cossacks became more pronounced. Taking the privileged position of the Polish gentry as their model, the Cossack starshyna (officers) (about 1,000 families) were successful in changing their status from an elected to a hereditary one. They expropriated land from the common Cossacks and increasingly exploited the peasants. The common Cossacks were divided into two categories: the richer elect Cossacks (vyborni kozaky), who could perform military service, and the poorer Cossack helpers (pidpomichnyky), who could not afford arms or military equipment. In time a large number of Cossack helpers were reduced to the status of peasants. In 1764 the elect Cossacks and their families numbered 176,886; the Cossack helpers and their families numbered 198,295.

In Slobidska Ukraine the Cossacks enjoyed wide autonomy within the Russian state. In Right-Bank Ukraine, which until the end of the 18th century remained under Polish rule, Cossack mercenary units existed. Their center was in Dymer (Kyiv region) until the 1680s and then in Nemyriv (Bratslav region). The hetmans and colonels were appointed by the Polish government. The need to secure its border from Turkish-Tatar invasions forced the government to organize on a territorial basis. Cossack bands came from Left-Bank Ukraine and the Zaporozhian Sich and settled in the Kyiv region and Bratslav region beginning in the 1680s. With the permission of the Polish government Cossack regiments were formed in Korsun, Bratslav, Khastiv, and Bohuslav under the command of Cossack colonels, headed by an acting hetman, Col Samiilo Samus from Bohuslav. But the actual head of the Right-Bank Cossacks was Semen Palii, colonel of Khastiv and Bila Tserkva; he led the Right-Bank Cossacks in their fight against Polish rule and oppression by the nobility and for the unification of Right-Bank Ukraine and Left-Bank Ukraine under the rule of Hetman Ivan Mazepa (the uprising of 1702). This unification was realized in 1704. This new Cossack movement in Right-Bank Ukraine lasted until 1714, when it was wiped out jointly by the Polish and Russian governments. The few remaining Cossacks were resettled in Left-Bank Ukraine. But Cossack traditions lasted in Right-Bank Ukraine throughout most of the 18th century (see Haidamaka uprisings). In 1790 the Polish Sejm decided to establish two Cossack regiments, but this resolution was never implemented.

Third period (1775–1917)
The third period in the history of the Ukrainian Cossacks began with the destruction of the Zaporozhian Sich (1775) and the abolition of the Hetmanate (1780s). The abolition of the Cossack system evoked discontent among the Ukrainian populace, both from the officers, who had lost their political authority and feared they would also lose their rights as nobility (only a part of the Cossack starshyna were granted the rights of the Russian nobility), as well as from the common Cossacks, who, after the decree of 3 May 1783 on the enserfment of commoners, faced the threat of losing their privileges as an estate and even the possibility of enserfment. As a result there were numerous starshyna protests (eg, the ‘Oda na rabstvo’ [Ode on Slavery] of Vasyl Kapnist in 1782 and his mission to Berlin to receive Prussian aid in 1791) on the one hand, and a number of Cossack-peasant disturbances, which sometimes took on dimensions that threatened the existing order (eg, the Turbai uprising in 1789–93), on the other. Against this background various petitions and projects in support of the restitution of the Cossacks appeared (eg, Kapnist's project of 1788). Sometimes they were successful with the Russian authorities; for example, a little Russian Musketeer corps in Kyiv was organized out of former Cossacks by General Andrei Levanidov in 1796, and rifleman regiments were created on the basis of former Cossack regiments and headed by former Cossack officers. Similar attempts occurred later as well, particularly when the Russian Empire was threatened (war with Turkey and France, uprisings in Poland, etc). In 1812, during the war with Napoleon Bonaparte, Senator Mykhailo P. Myklashevsky put together a project to restore Cossack regiments in Left-Bank Ukraine. This project was supported by Vasyl Kapnist and Dmytro Troshchynsky and was partially realized (with the formation of Cossack regiments, local militia, etc). It influenced the Cossack project of Prince Nikolai Repnin and I. Kapnist (the son of V. Kapnist) during the Polish Insurrection of 1830–1 and later projects (eg, during the Crimean War of 1853–6).

Although these projects were only partially realized and short-lived, they nevertheless had an influence on the preservation of the Cossacks as a distinct social class in the Chernihiv region and Poltava region. The Cossack estate survived there until the Revolution of 1917 and retained its lawful rights and privileges, excluding those connected with military service. There were, however, some Cossack units, formed on the basis of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, that had a military character. These included the following: the Danubian Sich on Turkish territory (1775–1828); the Cossacks in the Banat region of the Austrian Empire (1785–1812); the Boh Cossack Army, formed in 1784, which received land between the Dniester River and the Boh River and was relocated in 1792 in the Kuban as the Black Sea Cossacks, and in 1861, after its unification with the so-called Frontier Army, was renamed the Kuban Cossack Host; and the Azov Cossack Host, formed out of parts of the Danubian host, which in 1828 went over to the Russian side, was settled on the Sea of Azov coast, and in 1865 was partially resettled in the Kuban. The Kuban Cossack Host was the only formation of Ukrainian Cossacks that still existed in 1917 and had partial and very limited autonomy.

Certain Ukrainian noble families retained their national Cossack traditions, and many of their members took part in the Ukrainian independence movement and rebirth in the 20th century. Many members of the new Ukrainian intelligentsia were descendents of the Cossacks. The influence of Cossack traditions was evident in the Ukrainian struggle for independence (1917–20), particularly in the formation of the Free Cossacks and regular army units, and in the establishment of the Hetman government in 1918. But Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky's attempt to revive the Cossack estate was not successful.

(source: The Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine)

Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art - 2011 Auction

The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
held its annual fund raising auction on Saturday
 March 5th 2011 in the Institute’s gallery at
2320 West Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. 

One of the highlights of the evening was
the auction of the recently created statue "Taras"
 manufactured by “Kozak Designs” of Chicago.

With a starting bid of one hundred dollars, interest in “Taras” quickly escalated up to a final bid of four hundred fifty dollars
 (four and a half times the starting bid), raising the highest percentage of any item being auctioned that evening.

Kozak Designs was pleased to donate 100% of all proceeds to
The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art
so that it may continue to showcase
quality art in the community.

Welcome to Kozak Designs! We are a company dedicated to bringing you the finest Ukrainian Kozak Warrior collectibles! 

Our new line of collectibles will feature everything you ever wanted in an authentic Kozak statue: breathtaking detail, action oriented poses and historical accuracy. After years of shopping for Kozak statues worldwide, we never found the kind of quality miniature sculptures that truly satisfied us. Although we each owned a collection of Kozak statues that were adequate, they all left us wanting for more: More detail, more accuracy and more action! We never found what we were truly looking for, so we decided to take matters into our own hands by creating the Kozak Designs Company. Our statues reflect a proud Ukrainian heritage and display Kozaks worthy of bearing the Tryzub! We will continue to painstakingly research our designs so that our statues reflect historical accuracy. Kozak Designs is currently planning a line of limited edition collectibles that will look perfect in your home or office and will also make a great gift for the Kozak Warrior in your family!

Our blog will debut upcoming statues and collectibles as we are in production. We encourage you to offer your opinions and comments during the design process as we expand our line, so be on the lookout for opportunities to share your input. You can leave comments to share your thoughts with others. In addition to collectibles, we will also talk about all things Kozak! So please follow our blog, share with friends and most importantly, buy a Kozak Designs statue as we continue to reveal more exciting Ukrainian collectibles!